This 18 mile light rail line extends commuter access between downtown Portland and downtown Hillsboro in the heart of Oregon's Silicon Forest through a twin-tube tunnel under Portland's thousand-foot-high west hills.

It was Oregon’s largest public works project at the time, and when the line opened in 1996, it set precedents in urban transit design, engineering, accessibility, collaboration that became a model for other surface rail systems in the United States and other countries.

It introduced the first low-floor light rail vehicles in the country specially designed for easy access with strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs.

And the initiative demonstrated a commitment to social and economic development through coalitions between TriMet and west side neighborhoods.

Tri-Met brought architects, artists, engineers and local citizens together as equal partners in a larger planning vision to shape the system in a way that reflected and enriched the character of the communities surrounding each of its 20 stations.

By adapting these designs block by block and station by station, an uncommon rapport developed between community and transit agency initiative resulting in a greater patronage response than previously achieved by comparable systems in America.


In addition to a prestigious Presidential Award for Design Excellence and a U.S. Department of Transportation award in 2000, this project collected a long list of honors. In 1999, the Washington Park Station received the Building Team Project of the Year Award from Building Design and Construction magazine. The award recognized the cooperative effort of team partners in designing the project. That same year, the American Public Transit Association presented the light rail project with a first place spot in the national Livable Communities Transit Design competition. The project also received design awards from the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Consulting Engineers Council of Oregon and the Associated General Contractors.

Presidential Award for Design Excellence

Year 2000, National Endowment for the Arts - Clinton Administration
"This is a powerful model for other car-oriented cities, showing how well it can be done and how this new technology can be integrated."

Design for Transportation Honor Award

Year 2000, U.S. Department of Transportation
"This project compellingly illustrates what is possible when architects, artists, engineers and contractors, along with city officials, collaborate and aspire to the highest design standards."


As an Architect and Landscape Architect in urban design with ZGF Architects, my involvement in this project began in the early planning phase with others analyzing, studying issues, and developing concepts for several rail alignments.

During the design phase, my focus shifted to the downtown Portland segment from the 11th Avenue turnaround on SW Morrison and Yamhill streets, to SW 18th Avenue and SW Jefferson Street to the tunnel. I was responsible for the design, project management, contract documents, and construction supervision of four streets, three stations, and the Lincoln High School fence.

My designs for light rail stations, traffic circulation, street paving, lighting, furnishings, trolley wire suspension, and plantings honored the unique qualities of Yamhill, Morrison, 18th Avenue and Jefferson streets.

My attention to detail and first-hand experience in construction resolved numerous engineering constraints, reduced system maintenance costs, turned artist concepts into meaningful public structures, preserved the values vocally expressed by the Goose Hollow neighborhood, and the enhanced transit patron experience.

Also assigned responsibility for the architectural contract documents of the Washington Park Station, my detailing protected innovative designs from heavy public use, theft, and graffiti.

Role: Architect, Landscape Architect

Setting: ZGF Architects, Portland TriMet - Urban Design & Planning

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year: 1990 to 1993